The “Not-So-Off” Season


T-minus seven weeks until I officially start training for Ironman Lake Placid! I’ve done my research and I’m fairly certain that I’m going to be following the “Be Iron Fit” 30-week training plan.

training-planningLast week I finished up week 6 of 6 of’s Charlie Mike program (by one of my fitness idols, Ashley Horner).

I’ve mentioned before that in past years I’m notorious for completely taking off October, November and December and then coming back in January and wondering why I’m 20lbs heavier and slower than dirt!! (LOL!) But not this year. I start training December 26 and I knew I had to keep my base coming off Ironman 70.3 Ohio in August and the Akron Marathon in September. Doing the 6-week Charlie Mike program has basically saved my life and all my hard-earned fitness during this year’s “off-season“.

charlie-mike-2Today I started the Charlie Mike program over again with day 1 week 1 because I’m afraid I’ll lose my momentum if I don’t have a plan to follow. I’m good at training and I think that’s why I like it so much. I like proving to myself that I can follow a program to a T and hit every single workout. I don’t do well with “just working out” which I wish I could be better about, but to me it’s all about training and training for a purpose — AKA a giant race/event. I don’t do well with just free styling it. I like an action plan to follow and a strong reason why.

missionSO it looks like I have a plan for the next six weeks! I will do another Charlie Mike program, which will take me to the week of Dec 19. I will then take that week “easy” and then start up Ironman Training the following week (Dec 26).

So I am technically giving myself a taper and a small mental break  🙂

In December or January I’ll join a morning swim group a few days a week that is held through Cleveland Triathlon Club. This will help keep my swimming honest. I can’t decide if I miss swimming or if I’m gonna hate myself as soon as I’m back in the pool. Swimming is by far my least favorite discipline of triathlon, but I know it will be a major focus over my 30-weeks of training.

The plan was to get a new bike in November, but I couldn’t hold off and ended up getting a new bike in October. I’m completely obsessed! After surviving three years on a $100 hand-me-down, which I was never properly fitted for — owning a brand new, fitted bike is incredible! (But to be honest I loved my old, loyal bike too!)


Getting “fitted” in the bike lab at Bike Authority!


First spin outside on the new bike!

I’ve been looking into bike trainers too because I know I’m gonna need to ride long hours over the winter. I’ve been looking online and asking around and I’m leaning towards this model.

I’m happy with my progress over the “off-season” and am enjoying doing a lot of conditioning and weightlifting with Charlie Mike. This is the perfect program for me right now and fits into my base.

Here’s to another six weeks of Charlie Mike and officially seven until Ironman training!

Happy not-so-off season  🙂

A Trip to Italy & Other Whirlwind Activities


Phew! What a crazy few weeks it has been!

Within the past three weeks I competed in my first Ironman 70.3 triathlon, traveled to Italy for 10 days, celebrated our first wedding anniversary and started a side business with a close friend. Things have been happening so fast lately that I’m not sure I’ve really processed everything!

ctc-ironman-70-3-ohioI think the day after I got back from Italy and was drinking coffee out of my new 70.3 Ohio mug was the first time that it really hit me that the race was over and that I had competed and not only survived, but thrived. It feels surreal and I can’t believe I spent so much time training for the race. I must admit that although I am still training for the Akron Marathon on Sept. 24 — there is almost a feeling of lacking importance now when training. I know I’m in great shape to complete the marathon, but it’s weird to not be tracking my workouts or obsessed with my total weekly mileage. Like…it’s SUPER weird.

I did an 18-mile run last weekend and an 8-miler today, which were both fine. I felt decent during both. I don’t have super high expectations for my 4th marathon in six days, but I’m also not really interested in PR’s with 26.2 anymore (at least for now). To me running a marathon is all about the experience and your total time is just kind of a secondary thing. Anyone else with me on this?! I know I’m never going to qualify for Boston, so I relax and enjoy getting caught up in just being there.

I still cannot believe we were in Italy. We traveled almost 5,000 miles from home and now we are back like nothing happened. It’s crazy! Being overseas for the first time was exciting and I still can’t believe we actually made it happen!

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary out at a wine tasting tour in beautiful Tuscany, where we could see miles and miles of grapes vines. We saw the Colosseum, which was another “wow” moment” for me. We toured the Vatican, which was breathtakingly beautiful. (We even saw The Pope!!) We swam in the Mediterranean sea and dove off cliffs into the blue water. We hiked up a mountain. We strolled the stone streets of Florence imagining what life was like 500 years ago. We watched the sunset and the sunrise. We met Italian locals and laughed about Donald Trump. We drank lots of wine and ate lots of pasta. We stopped at tiny cafes and had pastries and cappuccinos every morning. We saw artwork that took your breath away and architecture that was so old you couldn’t even comprehend it.

Everything was simply amazing and incredible. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Here are a few pictures!

Monterosso al Mare - The Mediterranean Sea, cliff diving and hiking views.

Monterosso al Mare – The Mediterranean Sea, cliff diving and hiking views.

Monterosso al Mare - celebrating our one year anniversary dinner at an adorable mountain top hotel that my husband and I found.

Monterosso al Mare – celebrating our one year anniversary dinner at an adorable mountain top hotel that my husband and I found.

Some of the amazing food we tried!

Some of the amazing food we had!

Vatican City, Rome - We were able to see The Pope come out to the crowds after the mass to canonize Mother Teresa.

Vatican City, Rome – We were able to see The Pope come out to the crowds after the mass to canonize Mother Teresa. The Pantheon – (bottom left) was so massive and SO old!

Pisa, Italy

Day trip to Pisa, Italy.

View from climbing 414 steps in the tiniest, most claustrophobic stone stairway!

View of Florence after climbing 414 steps in the tiniest, most claustrophobic stone stairway! Worth it!

Visiting the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Visiting the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.


Ironman 70.3 Ohio — The Race Report


My face hurts from smiling. I haven’t even been able to stop grinning for about 36 hours now. I am completely on cloud 9 from this past weekend and I can’t stop raving about it. Next to our wedding day, racing Ironman 70.3 Ohio was my second favorite day ever!

athlete-villageTo be a part of something so incredible, amazing, uplifting and positive was more than I could have ever expected. I am so proud of not only myself, but of the 3,000+ other athletes that I toed the starting line with. Ironman is the most supportive and positive experience I think I’ve ever been a part of. All of these incredible athletes gathered in one place to push themselves and each other to be better and to not be average — it’s simply incredible. I am in awe.

ironman-signWe left our house on Saturday at about 11AM and got to athlete village around 1PM. We checked in with little wait time and I was nervous and excited as the nicest volunteers wished me luck. I picked up a few items from the Ironman store (aka my husband limited my spending) and then we went to an athlete briefing at 2PM. Next stop was the mandatory bike check-in at the beach start, so we headed over there. It was the biggest transition I had ever seen, but I kept my composure as I nervously racked my bike and made small talk with other athletes around me. It looked like it was going to rain, so after a quick walk around we headed back to the car. About five minutes later it was pouring and although I was concerned about my bike, I was super glad we didn’t get caught in it. My husband had recommended me tying plastic bags around my seat and aero bars, which I was glad I did.

bike-check-inAfter that we went to get something to eat since we were starving and then we checked into our hotel. Once in our room I began to reorganize my items all over again. (Seriously how many times do you need to organize stuff for an Ironman?! It’s insane how much you have to pack!!) Since the race was a point to point course and I had never done a race like that before, it took me a while to organize everything into my separate gear bags. (It also took quite a bit of checking and double checking to make sure I wasn’t panicking that I had forgotten something!)

gear-bags-ironmanMy husband stayed up to watch the UFC fights that were on and I turned off social media and tried to lay down to go to bed. I thought I was going to have a hard time falling asleep, but I slept decently and only woke up a few times throughout the night. My alarm went off at 3:45AM and I was wide awake. I wanted to be out the door by 4:30AM, but we left more towards 4:45AM. Thankfully we ended up being way ahead of schedule! We had to drive to T2 to drop off my run gear bag and then head over to the beach for the swim and to finish setting up my bike and T1 items. Because my husband was driving I just hopped in and out of the car and was super efficient at set up. We had so much time we even stopped at McDonalds for the hubs to grab an extra large coffee.

ironman-tritats-numbersWe were down by the beach at 7AM to watch the elite and first few waves go off. I knew this was going to be one of the hardest parts of the race — to sit there and wait and watch for my wave. I knew my head was going to be my enemy and I’ll admit I teared up just a little as the elites went off. It was a combination of nerves, excitement, worry, happiness and pride. I couldn’t believe that I was there and about to do this… I looked down at my hand and saw my two power words for the race — fearless and joy. I wanted to remind myself to be fearless even when I was doubting and questioning and to also soak up as much joy from the experience as possible. I do this because I enjoy it and I never want to forget that.

ironman-power-wordsFinally my wave was nearing so I dove in the water for a quick little warm up so that I felt more comfortable. This worked out well and the water temp was around 79 degrees and felt fine. After the fuss I had over the “no wet suit” fiasco — I hardly even noticed I wasn’t wearing one!! I felt completely comfortable in the water! pre-race-warm-up


This picture cracks me up because I look like a nervous, excited little kid!

I patiently waited in line with my age group and we slowly made our way to the front. Music was blaring and I felt excited. Finally it was our turn to get in the water and the announcer kept giving us updates like “just under 2 minutes ladies” and “about 30 seconds more”…then the horn went off and my Ironman 70.3 started!

swim-start-wave-ironmanI began swimming, but like any normal triathlon swim — the first few moments are straight chaos. I couldn’t find a spot and I kept hitting people and people kept hitting me. At one point someone’s arm (or maybe their foot I’m not quite sure) knocked me in the face and shoved my googles up over my forehead. I had to stop and tread water to fix them. I heard myself say “Ok, ok, easy. It’s fine. It’s completely fine.” I readjusted myself and kept going.

The first part of the swim felt a little longer than I had hoped for, but I kept reminding myself that the swim is long for almost everyone. I did manage to swallow water not once, but twice! I’ve never done that before and both times I had to stop and tread water to cough. Both times lifeguards in kayaks sprinted over to check on me. It made me feel super safe in the water and I waved them off with “I’m fine! Thank you!” 

swimFinally we were swimming the straight away back to land and I felt joy when my hands brushed the gravel. I had made it and it wasn’t nearly as bad or as hard as I imagined it to be…in fact I almost (just a tiny bit) enjoyed the swim!!

{Swim time: 46:09 minutes}

I sprinted back to T1 and then had the longest transition time known to man! LOL! I know that there is an art form to fast transition times, but all that goes out the window for me. Honestly my biggest thing was that I wanted to be comfortable for the 56-mile bike ride so I wanted to take my time to dry off my feet and eat my gels. I felt relief when I pressed on my tires and felt that they were fine. (I have a crazy irrational fear of a flat tire because it takes me over an hour to change one!) Before I knew it I was headed out of transition and starting the bike!

{T1 time: 9:47}
(BUT in my defense I put on compression socks, regular socks, my tri top, changed tri shorts from the swim, took an energy gel, drank water and took my inhaler — all after being disoriented from the 1.2 mile swim!)

Once I got on the bike I realized how much fun I was having. I had survived (and actually enjoyed) the swim and now there I was cruising down back country roads with the sun shining. I had a smile on my face almost the entire ride and my checks hurt by the time I was done.

bike-5I did have one little hiccup on the bike — because I was cruising (about 17 mph) and I had a nice rhythm going, I didn’t want to stop at the aid stations. I knew I should have stopped to eat because I’m bad at eating on the bike, but I just didn’t want to and I kept riding. The aid stations were at miles 14, 32 and 46. Around mile 40 I started to hit a wall. I was super tired and I started getting mad because I was so hungry. I just kept telling myself to get to mile 46 and that I would stop and eat once I was there. Finally I got there and I got off the bike. A nice volunteer held my bike for me as I put my hands on my knees. I was shaking at that point and knew I shouldn’t have waited so long to eat. I had a PB&J in my back jersey pocket and I took it out and ate it. I also took another gel and drank some Gatorade. Then I was off and I felt myself returning back to normal!

bike-22I will say that I was pretty paranoid of getting a yellow penalty card on the bike. The drafting rules for the race were six bikes ahead of you — six! Do you realize how large that is? Especially when it was really clogged up at times and you couldn’t really do a lot about it except to keep riding and hope there was no race official watching. Thankfully I made it through just fine, but when I passed the first penalty tent I was shocked at how many people were in it.

bike-33Finally I heard the noise of the stadium and knew we were close to the end of the bike and to T2. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the run, but I was glad to be off the bike.

bike-to-run11bike-to-run1{Bike time: 3:12}

My transition in T2 was better than T1, but I still wanted to make sure I was comfortable and took my time.

{T2 time: 5:35}

So there I was off on the run. I had made it through the swim and the bike and I was on the final leg of the race. I couldn’t believe it. I felt ok…for the first 5 minutes. And then the pain started. I later joked with my family that I had a few moments of deep despair on the run, but there’s no other way to describe it. At mile 3 I thought about seeing my husband and thought about crying. I carried on. Luckily there were a lot of amazing spectators on the course and hearing a random “keep going Cassandra!” helped to keep my spirits up. At mile 5 I started feeling decent. I was tired of course, but I felt like I had climbed over the wall that hit me pretty early on in the run. I kept playing games with myself like “run until you reach that light pole” and then I would walk for 30 seconds and then pick another target to run towards. This helped to pass some of the time, but I was really wishing we could have listened to music.

run-1At mile 9 I started running next to another fellow Cleveland Triathlon Club member, Melanie. We chatted a little bit, but mostly we encouraged each other when the other one would give a defeated sigh or groan. We ended up running the last 4 miles together and picked up the pace quite a bit. It was awesome running down the finishers shoot with another club member. Our entire tri club was going crazy when we passed them and I had a huge smile on my face.

CTC-MembersThe finish line was on the track of Selby Stadium at Ohio Wesleyan University. It’s awesome because the spectators and fans are looking down at you and cheering. I could hear the stadium from the street and I couldn’t believe I was in the final moments of the race. I love this moment. The very end when everything you’ve endured and pushed through is right there in front of you. It’s always an emotional few minutes as you near the finish line.

I tried to soak it all in. The cheers, the sun beating down on me, the tiredness and soreness in my legs, the smile plastered to my face…

Music blasted and I made the turn to the finish. I passed another group of Cleveland Triathlon Club members who were cheering loudly for me. The screaming and cheers were so loud and I felt myself start to tear up. I was grinning and blinking back tears. I heard my husband cheering and then I heard my mom! I was sprinting now and I heard the announcer yell “Cassandra Holloway bringing it home!” I was laughing and cheering too as I crossed the finish line. I had done it!

{Run time: 2:21}

finishline1finish-line2I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be, but I was even happier than I could have imagined. I kept saying “I just can’t believe it! I can’t believe that happened!”

{Total time: 6:35}

I didn’t have much of an appetite right after the race. They had a nice spread of post-race food for the athletes, but nothing looked good. I think I was too excited, tired, sore and thrilled to even think about food.

finisherUnfortunately Selby Stadium didn’t have a locker room/showers for the athletes (which I was really hoping they would considering I had to drive over 2 hours home). We ended up driving back to the beach start and I went in with a bar of soap to clean up — LOL! Hey, gotta do what you gotta do I guess! This was sufficient enough so that I could change and we went out to eat. Delaware is a really cute little town and I enjoyed sitting out on a patio with my family. We drank beer in the sun and I kept flipping out about the race. I just couldn’t believe it! It was a nice moment that I won’t forget.

Even almost four days later I am still thrilled. Honestly the training was harder than the actual race. The race was pure enjoyment and excitement. I can’t believe I was a part of something so incredible and I found that I was almost at a loss for words when I told my coworkers about it at work this week. Everything I tried to explain didn’t do it justice. You just have to be a part of it to fully understand and to “get it”.

By now I am fully recovered. I enjoyed some pasta and ice cream and two days of full rest. Yesterday I did some light weights and cardio and this morning I went out for an early 8-miler since I am still technically marathon training. My husband helped me make this little shadow box with my bib and medal and I’m obsessed with it! We found the box for $9 at the store.

boxTomorrow we leave for Italy and I can’t even believe it! What a whirlwind these past few days have been!! I’m also super excited to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary on Monday too. We will be taking a bus tour out to Tuscany to celebrate.

Thanks to everyone who followed my 24-week journey. I can honestly say it was worth every sacrifice and I learned a lot about myself and the sport. If you are questioning or thinking about doing a 70.3 my advice is to do it!! You will not regret it. Ironman 70.3 Ohio gets an A+ in my book. What a great inaugural race!


RACE WEEK — Ironman 70.3 Final Countdown


It’s here! It’s here! Race week to my first Ironman 70.3 Triathlon is finally here and I can’t even believe it!

I signed up last October while on a rainy trip in Denver, Colorado. I signed up with shaking hands and a thought that perhaps August 21, 2016 would never even arrive. I signed up wondering if I had the courage to try and the will power to even get to the starting line. I signed up despite pushing back feelings of fear, self-doubt and “what ifs” from my mind.

I dived into my training on March 8. Six months worth of training. Twenty-four weeks worth of early mornings, late evenings and everything in between. Twenty-four weeks worth of bike rides in the rain, swims in cold water and running even when I plain ole’ didn’t feel like it. The sacrifices have been endless and the real pain has not even begun yet, but the reward has been great even so far. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to feel like crossing that finish line.

I could sit here and type out how I’m feeling, but if you are reading this and have any inkling to the triathlon world then you probably already know exactly what I’m feeling. I am super nervous. I am insanely excited. I am pushing out the negative and breathing in the positive. And I am ready.

A fellow triathlete blogger shared this poem/tribute in a comment last week and I have reread it multiple times already.

Here is my favorite part:

“Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, Your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you. It won’t be pretty. It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren’t ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn’t know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth: You are ready. Your brain won’t believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish – that there is too much that can go wrong…

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It’s the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, “How will I ever be ready?” to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go…knowing that you’d found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you’re at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it…You are ready.”

See you on the other side!  🙂


Training Week 21 Recap — August Has Arrived!!


It’s August 1st. Wow!

I’m generally not one of those people who say “I can’t believe it’s already [insert month or holiday here]!” Because I always want to say to those people “Really? You can’t believe it? Where have you been then?” I feel like those types of people have a hard time living in the moment, which is something I feel I do a decent job at doing (most of the time that is).

august1I’m pretty self aware and often will find myself looking around and trying to “take in the moment” whether it’s driving to work and seeing the sunrise or looking around at a best friend’s wedding and really trying to be fully present. With that said I am stoked it’s August!! I’m not “surprised” like it snuck up on me, but generally SO excited that it’s here! August is by far my favorite month of the year. There’s something so bitter sweet about it. It’s an exciting time with summer starting to wrap up, kid’s going back to school and everyone starting a new season in life.

august2Last summer was all about getting married on August 29. This year we are most definitely looking forward to August 29 (again) for our one year anniversary, but also the past six months of my life have been preparing for Ironman 70.3 Ohio on August 21. Not only is that going to be an amazing date in August history — but we leave on August 26 for a 10-day vacation in Italy!! Talk about setting the bar high for future Augusts  🙂

I’m so excited for everything! Soon all my hard work will pay off. I’m feeling cool and confident going into the last 3 weeks of training. I did my longest brick EVER on Saturday (almost 6 hours) spent on a 40-mile bike ride and a 10-mile run. I just barely escaped the thunderstorm and rain! I even ran into my best friend up on the trail! She is training for her first half marathon and seriously kicking butt!

I managed to get in a very decent week mileage wise, totally 91 miles in just under 10 hours.

Week-21I realized a few weeks ago that it’s go-time on Akron Marathon training. I’m in great shape now, so basically all I have to do is throw in a few long runs between now and the end of September. This weekend I have 15 miles on the schedule and am psychotically looking forward to it. I have to keep in mind though that I will lose two training weekends in Italy between now and the race.

This week’s training looks promising, with great weather and lots of sunshine. I’m riding my bike to work tomorrow and it’s supposed to be gorgeous out. Yesterday (Sunday) I was thinking of going for an active recovery 5K, but decided I didn’t really want to pound the pavement. Instead the hubs and I went for a beautiful hike — until we suddenly got poured on about half way through! (This seems to be a common theme in my life!)

hiking-togetherThe only issue I am facing going into week 22 is trying to prepare for the race being wet suit legal vs. illegal. I haven’t not swam in a wet suit in probably two years. It’s comforting to know that I cannot sink while wearing a wet suit, so I’m really debating what to do. I think I will probably be OK without one, but I don’t want to take any chances. I’m sure the majority of people won’t wear one. I’m even debating getting a Zoot swim skin, but I don’t really want to drop the cash on it when I have a perfectly good wet suit. I’m still debating and more to come!

Other than that life is so, so good. I can’t even believe it! I love this time of year, I love training and I love the fact that we’ve been married almost a year and get to celebrate our anniversary in Italy!

Here’s to kicking butt the next three weeks! I do have some BIG news for a later date and time — no we aren’t having a baby  🙂 but I want to focus on one big thing at a time and will save discussing for another post!

Happy week 22! AH!!


70.3 Training Week 20 {Recap}


Ironman 70.3Training week 20-recapWeek 20 was a good training week. Good vibes, great weather (well sorta) and enjoyable workouts. Week 20 ended up tallying 113 miles — my all time record miles so far on this 24-week journey!

I’m proud of my training this week and I feel like I am in a really good mental state. I also feel like I’ve hit a new level with biking, which is really exciting to see and feel. I’ve cleaned up my diet too and I have laser focus these last few weeks. We are really in the home stretch now!

This week’s mileage was a combination of biking to work, a half marathon distance run and an epic 50-mile ride. (Of course I threw in a couple gym sessions and shorter runs too!)

ironman-training-week-20-recapThis past weekend I road the annual Sweet Corn Challenge with a few new friends. We did the 50-mile distance and it was a great route. This ride is known for its hills and it definitely didn’t disappoint! I felt strong on the hills and also throughout the ride. I felt like I could have kept going and it was an enjoyable morning. We made it to the finish within 10 minutes of a torrential downpour and lightening storm. We still got drenched of course, but I was happy to not have been out riding in the rain. I passed a lot of the 100-mile riders on my drive back home and my heart went out to them.

sweet-corn-challenge-1sweet-corn-challenge-groupOn Saturday I set out to run 13.1 miles. I meant to head out earlier, but I gave myself an extra hour of sleeping in (it was much needed). By the time I got out to the trail it was nearing 85 degrees. Needless to say it was a slooooow trot to 13.1 miles. I felt decent afterwards, but was sore the rest of the day.

On Tuesday during the week I rode to and from work — a nice little 30 miles. I had a giant breakthrough on that ride though and FINALLY made it up the massive hill on Gates Mills Blvd! I have been trying to climb this hill for almost THREE years now!! I’ve only made it up half way and then had to walk, but this past week I finally did it. I was “woo-hooing” to myself as I got to the top…it was 7AM, FYI. Like I’ve said before I am the queen of talking to myself during training and races. I probably look like a lunatic to the average eye, but hey whatever gets me across that finish line  🙂

I am feeling so good about training and have been reading about mentally preparing for the race and ways to calm nerves. Ironman has released start times and my age group is the second to last group — which I don’t really understand and it stinks a little bit, but I can’t really do anything about it I guess. It’s getting so close!!

participant-list-70.3ironman70.3-wave-timesI am getting SO excited. It feels great to be excited and believe in yourself vs. doubting yourself after a few tough workouts and rough patches. Training has been a roller coaster of emotions. High highs and low lows and everything in between. I’m excited to see this through until the end!

Here’s to week 21 of training! T-minus 27 days ’til race day!


70.3 Training – Week 19 {Recap}


Ironman Ohio Training Week 19 RecapTraining this week felt enjoyable, but was pretty uneventful. After a much needed three days off, I hit the ground running on Thursday with new-found motivation. This was my goal and I was happy to be back.

I wrote last week about a three-day juice cleanse I was doing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Day one and two were fine, with little to no problems. I felt decently full except for a dull (but manageable) headache. Then on Wednesday morning I woke up with a splitting headache! I chugged water and green tea and drank all my juices, but I never managed to get rid of the headache. I woke up on Thursday and ate solid food and instantly my headache lifted. My body was definitely trying to tell me to eat something! Despite the third day, the juice cleanse was overall pretty simple. I really did feel detoxed afterwards and I felt like I hit restart on my system. So far I still haven’t had any “bad” food since ending the juice cleanse and I feel great. I weighted myself on Thursday morning and I had lost 5lbs while doing the cleanse. (Of course I took this as a grain of salt because it was just all water weight!) Still – I felt good! If you are looking for a clean and simple way to jump start your system and clean-up your diet, I recommend a raw juice cleanse.

Soooo despite missing out on three days of training this past week, I still managed 59 miles in just over 7 hours. This is the first week in six weeks that my weekly mileage hasn’t been over 70. I think I can cut myself some slack  🙂

week-19On Saturday morning I got up early to head to the pool for a swim (because I tried to go Thursday before work, but the pool was closed!! Let me tell you how much that sucked at 6AM!) After my swim I ran 10.6 miles and I felt awesome. My body is getting used to some distance and I was excited to feel so good during the run.

Sunday I got up early again and headed out for a 32-mile bike ride. I rode through Willoughby, Willoughby Hills, Gates Mill and Hunting Valley. It was such a gorgeous morning. I was in heaven! The sun was shining and there were so many other riders and runners out. I found myself thanking God for the chance to be out there and being able to ride and train.

bike-ride-trainingpic-riding-parkThis week’s training is looking pretty full. I swam this morning and am riding to work tomorrow (30-miles total). I will do a CTC brick on Wednesday, a long run on Thursday and an indoor brick at the gym on Friday. Not sure what the plans are for this weekend yet. We were supposed to go to Put-N-Bay, but the weather is looking iffy. If we don’t end up going I may do the Sweet Corn Challenge on Sunday (50 miles), but we’ll see!

I honestly cannot believe we are in week 20 of training. Only 4 more weeks until race day!

Stay safe – happy training!

70.3 Training Week 18


Thank God for the Miltonman Olympic triathlon this past weekend! After a terrible, no good, very bad day of training last week, my confidence was shattered and I was questioning my 18 weeks of training. I was super nervous going into the race because it was a crucial step in proving to myself that I was ready and where I needed to be.

no-negative-thoughtsThe rain held off and it was a beautiful Saturday morning to race. I stayed in Friday night to get everything ready and I got a good night of sleep. I woke up early the next day and was out the door by 5:45AM. I arrived at the venue at 6:55AM and the race began at 8AM. I had plenty of time so I told myself to relax and take it easy.

transition-2-milton-lakeI listened to music as I got everything ready. Usually I am too nervous to do this, but I decided to give it a shot to see if it would help my nerves. I even watched my favorite Ironman YouTube video to help motivate and inspire me. I made small talk with a few athletes around me, but I kept telling myself to just focus on me. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’re not constantly looking around and watching every other athlete and comparing yourself to them. I was there to run MY race and to prove to MYSELF and I think deep down I understood that so I stopped caring what the other athletes were doing.

transition-milton-lakeThe swim was a dock start so we all lined up and got to jump into the water one-by-one. Everything happened so fast that I barely had time to think about it, which I was thankful for. I did notice that I had the same feelings as the last Olympic I did — I was slightly nervous, but more excited than anything. The water was warm when I dove in and I told myself to just relax and do my own thing. The sun was shining and the lake had beautiful surroundings. I found myself just thanking God for the opportunity to be out there for most of the swim.

dock-start-2-JPGI didn’t have one freak out! I never even had to flip over on my back to backstroke! I treaded water to adjust my goggles twice, but even then I was calm and efficient. Toward the last straight away to shore, I realized I had to pee pretty bad. I tried my best to continue swimming and to pee at the same time, but it just wasn’t working LOL. I knew I had to go before I got on the bike though, so I ran to the restrooms as soon as I had my wet suit off. (Thankfully the bathrooms were right next to transition.)fearless-milton-lake

Now onto the bike. Ah yes, the bike. The “most fun” of all three sports to me. Now a few days ago I realized I had a back flat tire. Thankfully it wasn’t during a ride. My husband and I tried to change it ourselves, but after realizing I only had one tube (which was for a flat on the road) I decided just to take it to our local bike shop. We watched a few YouTube videos on how to take off and put back on the tire and after fiddling with it, we got the back tire back on. Now this is where my own stupid behavior comes in. I didn’t think to test ride it at all until the actual race. The bike pedals seemed fine when we picked it up and gave it a few spins, but I never actually rode it until I hopped on it to start the bike leg of the race…

Instantly I could feel something wrong. It wasn’t really pedaling and when it was it was really hard and sounded like the gears were breaking. I jumped off and spent about 5 minutes trying to tighten and move things around. I couldn’t actually figure out what was wrong with it though. My face was red and I didn’t look up. I just kept trying to figure it out, which I honestly had no idea what I was doing! I had watched a few YouTube videos, but I couldn’t remember anything at that point. Then suddenly a nice man came up “Can I give you a hand with this?” He asked. I wanted to scream “YES please help me please fix it!!”. He took a look and adjusted a few things and then it seemed like it was OK. I thanked him and was off. But then seriously 3 minutes later, just as I fully exited out of transition and pedaled only a few feet, I heard weird clicking and breaking sounds and I knew something was wrong with it again. I pulled off onto the grass and practically threw my bike. Now I was alone on the course and no athletes were going to stop and help me (and I don’t blame them). Thoughts of just walking my bike back to my car and going home flashed through my head. Why was this happening?! I spent another 5 minutes working on it and managed to get my entire back wheel off. Great. Now I had no back wheel and was stranded. Suddenly a car pulled up and the same nice guy who had helped me earlier ran up to me. I started to explain what I was seeing and after a few adjustments he said “Your back axle is on backwards”. He adjusted it, then he said he loosened my breaks. I hopped back on and FINALLY it felt normal. I saw the car he was in ride past me on the course and realized he was “bike support” for the race. I silently thanked him over and over again in my head.

Despite losing about 10 minutes on bike technical difficulties, my time was pretty average at 1:33. I felt like I was really hammering to make up time though and I arrived back in transition breathless, but way less flustered than I was when I started the leg. My T2 was quick and efficient and before I knew it I was out on the run course.

lake-milton-bridgeI must say though – it was the best triathlon run I’ve ever had! I didn’t walk one time, which may sound pathetic to others, but the past two Olympic triathlons I’ve done the run has felt like pure torture and I have had mental fights just to keep going. This run felt good and I really enjoyed the scenery. My legs weren’t screaming at me to stop and I didn’t feel that mental “despair” out of pure tiredness. Once again I found myself talking to God and thanking him for the summer, the weather and the chance to be out there competing in a triathlon. I finished on a good note and was happy and proud.

I ran into the guy who had helped me with my bike and I thanked him profusely. Not sure what I would have done without him! Lesson learned  🙂

I am still on a high from the race. I love the Olympic distance and I love competing on beautiful, sunny summer days. It really makes you appreciate everything you have and are able to do. I want to chase that feeling for the rest of my life.

On Sunday I got up early to get in a solid 11 miles, bringing my weekly total up to 82 miles. Needless to say my legs are shot and I am a good sore and tired this morning.


For the next three days I will be on a juice cleanse by Juice From The Raw. I’ve had this planned for about three weeks now. Basically when I started questioning my training and when I had a “why am I doing this” week, I knew my mind and body were begging me for a little break. A few co-workers have done juice cleanses recently and I’ve been curious about them. I found a coupon and ordered it and have planned THREE total rest days in a row. I’m so excited. Three glorious days to not think about training and to allow my tired legs a good break. I have a massage planned for tonight, a facial planned for tomorrow night and on Wednesday night I’m going to go sit in the hot tube and sauna at my gym. The next three days will be all about detoxing, resting and restarting my body and system.

juicesThis morning I weighed myself for the first time in nearly four months and was pleasantly surprised to see I was down 5lbs. I’m not trying to lose weight, but I’m also not really watching what I eat either. Yes I eat a good amount of salads and veggies and take certain supplements, but I have not restricted myself all summer. We’ve gone on plenty of trips and there have been many nights at the bar filled with pizza and beer to say the least. All I’ve really focused on is making sure my training was on point and making sure I ate decently around my bigger training days or races. I’m excited to try to focus on nutrition now. (I realize this probably should have played a bigger role earlier on in my 70.3 training, but who wants to diet or watch what they eat during the summer?!) Workouts and training are easy and fun — it’s what you put in your mouth that is the real challenge. I’m really going to start being more conscious of it.

Here’s to the next three days! I feel positive and happy and I’m thankful for where I am in my training and in my life. I know that with taking three days off I am automatically going to have a lower mileage number this week, but that is OK. Three days off won’t hinder my fitness. If anything it will help recharge my motivation and I’m excited to see how I feel both physically and mentally.

Happy training week 19! (WOW 19!!)


Week 17 + New York City


Ya’all I am burned out.

Not so much physically, but mentally. I am growing tired of doing the same things day in and day out and constantly worrying about and checking my weekly mileage. I definitely put the pressure on myself, but I HAVE to be at 70+ miles every week. If I’m not I freak out and instantly start thinking that I’m “under trained”. I know…. I’m ridiculous.

Who knows maybe I’m supposed to have a “melt down” during my 24-weeks of training. Maybe I’m supposed to burn out to get to a better mental place afterwards. Who knows?! All I do know is that I’m mentally exhausted and that I’m at a low point in my training after a rough day last Friday…

wavesI decided to do Emeraldman, which is a full day of Ironman training for Cleveland Triathlon Club. It takes place the Friday before 4th of July weekend and I was really looking forward to it because I was going to be able to train with other people. I do most of my training alone, so anytime I get to train with CTC I am happy.

The training started with a swim at Columbia Beach Park and then everyone headed over to the Rocky River Reservation afterwards for the bike and run. It was an out and back course so whenever you wanted to turn around you could. I was so pumped for the day! I couldn’t wait to take the day off from work to train with other triathletes. I set everything up like a race the night before and I was both nervous and excited when I pulled into the parking lot. I didn’t technically know anyone, but that was OK. The Club is super welcoming and everyone is always very nice.

I got to the beach and put my wet suit on. I made small talk with a few people around me and felt pretty good. The sun was rising and it was warm, but not too hot. Half of the group went out to do a 1.8-mile swim while a smaller group stayed parallel with the shore, which I opted to do. I wanted to swim about a mile.

Some of the group pre-swim

Some of the group pre-swim

The group of swimmers I was with were faster than me, but I didn’t mind. I just swam along behind them doing my thing… Then about five minutes into the swim I suddenly found that I couldn’t take a deep breath in. My wet suit seemed too tight and my lungs were irritated. I began to cough. (Mind you — I have sports-induced asthma, which I think is a load of crap, but that’s another story for anther day. The point is when I start to cough it lingers because of my asthma.) Despite my cough, I kept swimming and tried my best to ignore it, but it just kept getting worse. I couldn’t find any sort of rhythm in my stroke and I found that I could only go a few moments without having to stop to cough. I tried blowing bubbles into the water and I flipped over onto my back to try to gather myself repeatedly. I did backstroke for a few moments and then a giant rush of water went up my noise, causing me to spit and start coughing even harder. I continued to cough very hard the remainder of the swim and I was trailing pretty far behind everyone by now. The thing is I didn’t even mind that I was last, but I was MISERABLE. I couldn’t stop coughing or catch my breath and I freaked out every time I put my face in the water. What was wrong with me?!

The rest of the swimmers were going to swim one more time across the shore, but I announced I was heading in. I was panicking just to touch the sand again and as soon as I did I ripped off my wet suit and fought back tears. What was wrong with me?! Why had I just acted as if that was the first open water swim in my life?! I was making rookie mistakes like allowing my panic to skyrocket to the point where I couldn’t bring it back. My breath was short and harsh and my arms and legs thrashed through the water like a lunatic. All of these things do NOTHING to stop open water anxiety and I KNEW this, yet I kept doing it. Even now, days later I still get a pit in my stomach thinking about that swim. What was my problem? Am I even ready? I have an Olympic distance triathlon this Saturday and I have been dreading it because of my performance at Emeraldman.

dissapointmentTo make the Emeraldman training day even more terrible for me – I coughed for the next several hours and never really felt like I could take a deep breathe in (even with my rescue inhaler). Then it started to pour as soon as we were about to get on our bikes… And I’m talking tsunami level pouring rain. I was like a wet cat. Riding my bike completely miserable and hating everything triathlon related. I had to convince myself not to turn around instantly. I went back and forth in my head over when was a decent time to turn around and I decided 15 would do. That way I could get in a solid 30-miles, but my original plan and hope was that I could get in 56 (the full 70.3 bike distance.) Of course this was another bitter disappointment of the day for me. I honestly couldn’t wait to get off the bike, sit down in my car and just be by myself. I was miserable, cold, wet, disappointed, mad, and still coughing up a lung.

Emeraldman has haunted me all week and even this morning in the pool, I felt slight twinges of panic in the water because of my awful experience last Friday. I was able to contact my doctor and get a refill for a steroid inhaler, which should help with the lung irritation I have been feeling. I am still beyond nervous for my race this weekend. I don’t get why I was so freaked out. Maybe I didn’t warm up enough or maybe my wet suit wasn’t on right. Maybe I just didn’t mentally prepare myself enough for the OWS. Whatever it was, I need to do 300 times better on Saturday. It stinks because it shattered my confidence in swimming and of course it happened the week before a race. I can’t let this get me down though. I have to keep fighting and pushing through and believe that I can do the swim correctly and strong.

Despite how awful Emeraldman was for me (and honestly it was a great event, I just had a terrible, lousy performance), I still had a decent week of training. I managed to get in 81 miles while also traveling to New York City for the long weekend. I used the immaculate hotel gym and also got to bike through Central Park.

Week-17It was an awesome trip and it was out first time in NYC. What an amazing city! Now it’s time to buckle down and get mentally tough for my race. Triathlon is a mental mind game, especially the open water swim. It’s all in what you tell yourself and how cool, calm and collected you stay in the water.


Ironman 70.3 Training {Week 16}


This week was a pretty uneventful week in my little training world.

The entire city had Cav’s fever and I chose to sleep in not once, not twice, but THREE days this week after being out late celebrating the nights before. My consequence was having to train after work and just being totally exhausted. I still managed to keep some of the training magic alive, despite feeling very tired and distracted.

Here’s how the week panned out:

week-1675 total miles and just over 10 hours of training. I didn’t take a rest day this week, but on Wednesday and Sunday I did a short 5K run both days and kept having to tell myself that it was OK. I used to think running anything under 4 miles wasn’t even a workout and that it was a complete waste of time. I think I came up with this idea somewhere in my full marathon training, but it’s time to get rid of that notion. It’s great active recovery and it was amazing to be done training for the day after just 30 minutes!

I was really looking forward to Saturday because my mom and I were doing a 30-mile ride with Lake Metroparks along the Lake Erie Harbor. It turned out to be beautiful weather and the sights were as promised. It was nice to cruise along in the sun while watching the lake as your view.

mom-me-bike-rideI took the world’s dumbest spill while out riding on Saturday though. I was going pretty fast, but we were off a deadend street so thankfully there were no cars around. I turned over a huge pile of gravel — like the kind you fill your driveway with — and my bike completely slid out from underneath me. I had no defense whatsoever and my feet were still clicked into my pedals. I caught myself on my left elbow and scraped it up. It looked worse than it was, but it’s still pretty tender a few days later. Note to self – be very, very careful on gravel.

arm-woundI thought it was ironically appropriate that someone posted on the Cleveland Triathlon Club Facebook page about having a “Why am I doing this” type of week. I felt similar and was just so tired. I’ve mentioned before that I am following a free 70.3 training plan from pro-triathlete, AJ Baucco. He commented on the Facebook post and I thought it was worth repeating here:

“It’s all about balance and living “in the sport”. That’s the kind of stuff that fosters long term development. If you don’t train for a week, it’s just a week. 7 days out of thousands and thousands of days in your athletic career. The goal should always be to remain happy with the sport and eager to remain active.”

Let me reiterate that last part to anyone reading and needing a boost (myself included): “The goal should always be to remain happy with the sport and eager to remain active.”

I often wonder to myself “What am I going to do after the Ironman?” or “Do I think I will ever do another long distance race again?” or even “Will I keep doing triathlons after this summer?” …and I have no idea how to answer any of these questions and it can be overwhelming at times. I start panicking that I will stop working out altogether after the race and lose all my fitness and drive and just become boring. But when I read “…you should be eager to remain active.” That hit me hard. That’s what I want. That’s what I should aim for.

Even if I stop doing races or if I never compete in triathlons ever again — I still want to be active. I still want to keep swimming, biking and running because I love it and because it’s fun and because it’s good for me. I still want to go paddle boarding and rock climbing and zip lining. I feel better when I’m active. It makes me feel good and I always want to have that in my life. I don’t know what’s next after Ironman 70.3, but I do know that I want to be eager to remain active. That’s the bigger picture I should be chasing!

Let’s head into week 17!

Happy training friends!